Skylenn Hunt

Skylenn Hunt, a freshman at Faribault High School, is eager to go on a ME to WE service trip to Tanzania this summer. In the meantime, she’s busy raising funds for her trip. (Misty Schwab/Faribault Daily News)

Faribault High School freshman Skylenn Hunt is passionate about helping people, kids in particular, with insufficient resources. This summer, the people of Tanzania will get a two and a half week sampling of Hunt’s compassion during a ME to WE service trip.

Hunt attended WE Day, a conference of touring motivational speakers, to learn about topics such as barriers in education, use of water and women’s empowerment. During the conference, Hunt entered her name in a drawing to win a free WE service trip. While she didn’t earn the free trip, she’ll still be able to take the journey if she can raise enough to cover the fare. For that reason, Hunt set up a GoFundMe page to kick-start her fundraising.

So far, the page helped Hunt raise just over $700 with an end goal of $5,500 by the time she leaves on the 17-day trip June 30. In addition to the page, Hunt plans to sell her signature lemon “aide” and brainstorm more fundraising ideas.

“I’m just really excited to go,” said Hunt. “I’m excited to bring my firsthand experiences back here, and I really want to get involved with the school. [This trip] is going to bring that [experience] one notch higher.”

ME to WE trips involve development projects in several countries, among them the Amazon, India and Ecuador. A WE trip coordinator helped Hunt narrow down her preferred destinations to Kenya and Tanzania. Ultimately, Hunt chose Tanzania because the work there involves a lot of interpersonal social interactions, something Hunt does well. She also chose Tanzania because WE only recently started coordinating trips to that location, and Hunt wants to help with an early project.

“Now that I’m going, I’ve been learning a lot more, but in the beginning I didn’t know much about Tanzania,” said Hunt. “There’s so many different cultures down there.”

To prepare for the trip to the east African nation, Hunt watches webinars provided by the WE organization and speaks biweekly with WE trip coordinators.

Once there, Hunt will stay in a mobilized tent in the Longido District with at least 15 other youth. According to Hunt’s sample itinerary, her average day includes lessons in Swahili, water walks due to the water shortage in Tanzania, medicine walks with Maasai warriors, project building and reflection time. Hunt said she doesn’t know the building project yet, but it might be a house, hospital or school.

For a tourist opportunity, Hunt said the WE trip also includes a climb to the base camp of Kilimanjaro.

Although Hunt hasn’t traveled outside the country for a community service event before, her volunteer experience in Faribault alone is nothing short of extensive.

She initially developed an interest in helping kids in developing countries by volunteering at the Faribault Food Shelf as a middle school student. The passion for helping others in general grew when she sold lemonade and bracelets to raise $1,700 for the American Cancer Society, a milestone that earned Hunt an invitation to speak at the Rice County Relay for Life. The largest sum she raised, however, was $3,500 for Crescent Cove, the first children’s hospice home in Minnesota. In middle school, Hunt joined the student organization Falcons for Change and partnered with a fellow student to plan Anti-Bullying Week as a seventh grader.

“There’s just a few things we’re proud of her for,” said Dean of Students Joe Sage, as an understatement.

Reporter Misty Schwab can be reached at 507-744-2551. Follow her on Twitter @APGmisty.

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